California license plate

It's a classic dichotomy – automakers need to build both the kinds of cars consumer want to buy and also the kinds of cars the policymakers tell them they have to build. And oftentimes, these two segments don't exactly meet in the middle. Such is seemingly the case in California, where the Global Warming Solutions Act will soon force automakers that wish to remain in business in the state to drastically lower carbon emissions while also producing significant numbers of zero emissions vehicles.

That's all well and good, and automakers do in fact support the move towards greener vehicles. The problem, according to just about every party involved – including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the California New Car Dealers Association, J.D. Power and Associates and even automakers like Honda and Toyota – is getting the mass of consumers to purchase these government-mandated green vehicles.

What's the answer? "That is the $64,000 question," notes Toyota's U.S. boss Jim Lentz. While it may be true that nobody knows for sure, any number of ideas are being bandied about to sweeten the deal for consumers. Ward's Automotive reports that proposals as diverse as tax breaks for fuel efficient cars, access to coveted HOV lanes or added incentives for scrapping older cars in favor of greener rides are all being considered. And this is all assuming California's well-known budget woes don't put an end to the legislative push for automotive efficiency. No matter the case, it would seem we'll be in for a wild – and hopefully fuel efficient – ride.

[Source: Ward's Automotive | Image: Brett L. via cc 2.0]